• Section Contents
  • Bahamas Copper Coins

    The Bahamas Copper of 1806: Introduction

    In 1656, Bermudan colonists arrived in the Bahamas founding the first English settlement at New Providence. The colony prospered, but the proximity of the islands to the Spanish trade routes also made the area headquarters for several pirate bands. Since local authorities could not control these renegades the local commerce suffered . The situation became so desperate that in 1717 the Lord Proprietors of the islands surrendered control of the government to George I, who commissioned Captain Woodes Rogers as royal governor. Woodes arrived in the Bahamas in 1718 with heavily armed troops and soon subdued the pirate bands. Some one thousand pirates surrendered and were pardoned; eight, who would not capitulate, were hanged. In 1728 this event was commemorated in the selection of the national motto, "Explusis piratis restituta commercia," (With the expulsion of the pirates commerce has been restored).

    The economy of the Bahama Islands made extensive use of barter and relied on Spanish gold and silver coins for currency. Around the same time that some of the newly formed American states were coining coppers, the Bahamas legislature in 1789 passed an act regulating copper currency (Act 29 Geo. III. cap. 2). A proposal for copper tokens was put forward in 1802 but apparently no action was taken. On June 30, 1806 the Bahamas Assembly ordered £500 in copper pennies from Boulton's Soho Mint in Birmingham. The dies were cut by Conrad Heinrich Kuechler, modeling the obverse on the 1806 English halfpenny.

    The obverse of the coin depicts the bust of George III wearing a laurel wreath with the legend "Georgius III . D : G . Rex." (George III, King by the Grace of God) and the date 1806 below. The reverse shows a ship at sea with an island and two ships in the background. Above is the legend "Bahama" and below is the national motto. In addition to the regular 1806 issue, Boulton minted proof specimens with the standard entailed edge and others with a plain edge. A few proof coins were also minted in 1807. The local population in the Bahamas preferred cut silver to copper tokens and so these coins were refused by the local population, thus the project to mint coppers was abandoned. Interestingly later in 1825 when British silver and copper coins were introduced in Jamaica, the Bahamas and related colonies only the silver was accepted while the coppers were sent back to Britain (see Pridmore , p. 93).

    Latest revision: December 23, 1999


    On this coin see: F. Pridmore, The Coins of the British Commonwealth of Nations to the End of the Reign of George VI 1952, Part 3: Bermuda, British Guiana, British Honduras and the West Indies,London: Spink and Son, 1965, pp. 72-74; Robert Chalmers, History of Currency in the British Colonies  London: n.p., 1893, 161-169; Chester Krause and Clifford Mishler, Standard Catalog of World Coins  ed. Colin R. Bruce II, Iola, Wis.: Krause, 1991, vol. 1, p. 224, KM-1; and Andre Clermont and John Wheeler, Spink's Catalogue of British Colonial and Commonwealth Coins  London: Spink, 1986, p. 59 .

    ^ ->
    Section Contents Bahamas Copper Coins

    For viewing tips and information on optimal computer settings click here.
    For our copyright statement click here.

    For questions or comments contact Special Collections by:
    , telephone: (574) 631-0290, or mail:
    Department of Special Collections, 102 Hesburgh Library,
    University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556